First ride of the year - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

January 2, 2022

First ride of the year

Last night dropped to at or near freezing, the coldest it’s been since we arrived three weeks ago.  It’s clear and beautiful outside when we look out the window, but neither of us is tempted to step out the door until nearly noon.  We sit in our chairs next to the frustratingly ineffective heater and do our best to stay warm.

Other than the poor layout, the lack of any counter space in the kitchen, the inconsistent WiFi, and the lack of enough table space for us to both eat at the same time, we like our place here just fine. Oh, and except for the poor heating - that’s a problem too.
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Suzanne GibsonOh no, freezing in and outdoors!
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7 months ago
Bruce LellmanWow, that sounds like a great room! If it had sewer gas, a sink that drained onto your feet, a little fridge that froze everything, a frog in the corner or a large spider lurking behind the toilet I'd say it is a lot like the rooms we get in SE Asia.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonSad but true. Such hardships!
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7 months ago

Finally around noon it warms up near 50 and we head out.  We have different plans for the day since it’s still cool and we’re getting such a late start.  She just wants to get some miles in, but I want to get out to Rillito Wash to see the unbelievable raging river that Kelly showed us yesterday.  Rachael decides to head up Mountain Avenue to the Loop and then head east toward Harrison Wash.  as part of her new year’s resolution she decides to quit being driven so much by metrics, so who knows how far she’ll go?  Maybe 42 miles, maybe not - she’ll just go with the flow and see how she’s feeling.

Both our rides start out in the same direction, so we leave home together and bike up our alley to University together.  We get exactly a block and a half before I find a reason to stop, so she of course continues on.   I don’t imagine I’ll see her again until we’re both home later in the day.

Touching up the new mural on Herbert, just up the alley from us.
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I’m heading north to the loop, but I’m in no rush about it and decide to check out a new route north.  I bike east through the university again, enjoying a nice view down Main Plaza to slightly snowy Mica Peak out east beyond Saguaro Park.  I should go bac’ and look more closely at those photos from yesterday’s hike - we must have been looking straight down University from twenty miles east.

Mica Peak, from the center of the university campus. And there’s that giant wishbone/tweezer collection we saw earlier.
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The last time I came this way I headed north up Campbell, but this time I decide to treat myself with a cruise up Treat Street (an avenue actually, which is a missed opportunity by the urban planners -Treat Street just sounds cooler).  It’s a quieter route that just passes through neighborhoods rather than a bike-lane ride on an arterial.  I wander off down a few side streets looking for an interesting chimney because our Cycle365 Challenge Czar has charged us to go find some interesting chimneys this month.  I find one, and a few other things of interest besides.  I’m pretty sure I’ll ride up Treat Street again before we leave town to see what else is around.

Magenta mailbox, along Treat Street.
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Chimney and cacti, along Treat Street.
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Color riot, along Treat Street.
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Plein-air drying rack, along Treat Street.
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A dead end spur off of Tucson Boulevard.
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Red Stallion, another new art work in Rio Vista Natural Resource Park, just off the Loop. Looks like there was a special on stainless steel horse sculptures last year.
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Just before I reach the Loop, the phone rings.  It’s the other half of the team reporting in to advise me of a change in plans.  She was nearly out to the Loop herself when she stopped to get her ear warmer out of her pannier and realized she’d left home without it, or her phone or her patch kit and spare tire or her lunch, because she’d forgotten the whole damn pannier.  A lot of important items there, but a ride without lunch is unthinkable so she biked back home again.  She’s starting over, and this time will just head down to Saint Mary’s and north along the Santa Cruz.

I’m heading there myself eventually, so perhaps we’ll meet up and bike home together.  First though, I have to stop and see why these two ladies are standing by the side of the wash looking up a transmission line pole.

Two more ferruginous hawks!! Amazing - I’ve tripled my lifetime count for this bird in one go.
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Rillito Wash is full of water, alright.  If I hadn’t seen Kelly’s photo yesterday I’d have been shocked by the way it looks today; but from the muddy margins around the side of the rushing river it’s obvious that it was much higher yesterday afternoon.  I’m not a desert guy, so it’s still novel for me to see such graphic evidence of how quickly these washes can fill and empty out again.

Rillito River looks like an actual river today, instead of the bone-dry wash we usually see.
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It’s shockingly high still, but I wish we’d seen it yesterday sooner after the rains. It looks like it must have been at least two feet higher.
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Folks in the know in Tucson rush to the beach when the surf’s up.
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The next ten or fifteen miles are just more of the Loop, which today is great.  It’s interesting seeing the river, there’s a bit of snow on the mountains still, and the day has really warmed up.  I bike as far as Ina Road before turning back south up the Santa Clara, keeping a rough track of where Rachael is.  She’s a few miles south of me so I poke along a bit giving her time to possibly catch up.  When the time comes to choose I opt to stay on the east bank, thinking it’s the one she’ll probably take herself, and find a bench in the sun to stop and down my trail mix snack I’ve brought along for lunch.

That’s a mighty big tumbler ya got yourself there, pard!
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Bruce LellmanI've always wanted a large tumbleweed to hang in our backyard. Could you just throw this one in your car when you come back to Portland? Or maybe on top? Thanks.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanErr - I’m pretty sure they’re a protected species and that would be a felony offense.
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7 months ago

When I start up again, I see that Rachael’s nearly caught up with me; but I’ve guessed wrong and she’s biking down the west bank on the opposite side of the wash from me.  I start watching for her to catch up so I can get a shot of her from across the wash, when I’m startled to look up and see a huge raptor perched on the railing calmly overlooking the wash.  I of course stop immediately and pull out the camera, hoping for a decent shot before it soars off.

Almost immediately the phone rings.  I let it ring for a bit while I take some shots before answering.  It’s Rachael, announcing that she’s on the opposite side of the wash and not far behind me - which I was aware of already of course.  We discuss plans for the remainder of the ride while the hawk soars off over the wash.  Too late it occurs to me that I’d meant to watch for this to help in its identification.

A rough-legged hawk perhaps? Or maybe a red-tail. I was talking on the phone with Rachael and forgot to observe hike when he flew off.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI'd guess juvenile red tail based on what I find... Hawks always give me fits.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id
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7 months ago

I still like the idea of getting a shot of Rachael across the wash, so I glance across from time to time to see if she’s caught up yet.  Before that happens though I come to Sweetwater and have to stop because for the first time there are many more ducks on the pond than I’ve seen so far this winter.  While I do, Rachael slips by behind my back.

Two ring billed ducks, Sweetwater preserve.
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Their mates, perhaps.
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Rachael’s no slouch - I can see that she’s moving about 14 mph, and too far off for a shot unless I race.  So I race, get close enough for a shot finally and stop.  But it’s not a very good shot - the angle’s wrong, it’s into the sun - so I start chasing again, this time from further behind because she of course didn’t stop herself and wait for me.

I almost catch up again, stop again, but am still not too happy with the results.  Finally I catch up for good because this time she’s stopped herself on the opposite side waving at me - a fact I missed somehow, so we don’t have a photo of her waving.  But action shots are really better anyway.

And how far did Rachael bike today, you might ask?  Oh, 42 miles.  It just felt right.  When we post-mortem the day she shares the highlight of her day - a roadrunner running up the wall beside the path, right beside her.  She describes it as if they were looking eye-to-eye at each other, less than three feet apart.

Ha! I got behind Rachael when I stopped to admire those ducks and have been racing to catch up with her to get a shot across the gorge. Finally!
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Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 1,232 miles (1,983 km)

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